Sunday, December 26, 2010

Be Her...2011


I've been reflecting quite a bit recently about what I want to do for myself and my family in 2011. My goals in 2010 were fairly simple. I wanted to become more organized in my home. I feel I have made great strides in this area! D gave me a huge push forward by giving me a much wanted label maker for Christmas. He didn't really see the point, but now my drawers and bins are labeled. Maybe the children will actually be able to put things away correctly!

But for 2011, I've been thinking on who I want to BE. I am a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter...but I'm so much more than those family labels. And, in order to be better at those roles, I need to focus on self-improvement.

So, who do I want to BE?

I've spent time pondering this. My mind was drawn several time to Gordon B. Hinkley's 9 Ways to Be. Gordon B. Hinkley was president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1995 until he passed away in 2008. Even if you aren't LDS, the teachings of President Hinkley and his Ways to Be, are things we can all benefit from.

In 2011, I will be focusing on one of the Bes each month and trying to incorporate them more in to my life.

January: grateful
February: smart
March: involved
April: clean
May: true
June: positive
July: humble
August: still
September: prayerful

You'll notice there are no Bes for October, November, and December...That's because those are my months to Be REALISTIC. LOL October starts our busy time of year. We go pretty much non stop those months and if you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that my blogging becomes very sporadic. I'm not going to promise anything of interest in those months except for updates on the fair, birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I would invite my readers to participate in the Be Her project for 2011. Drop me a comment and I will add you to the Be Her Blog Roll in the side bar. The requirements are pretty basic: Two posts a month on what you are doing to BE for that month's theme. A post at the beginning of the month to share the goal, and an accountability post at the end of the month.

Please grab a badge and add it to your blog! Then post along with me.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday-Dec 6

Life continues to be hectic around here. I am working nights, Monday through Friday. That means D has been in charge in the evenings. I have to make dinner before I leave for work. It's not been working all that great. But, we deal with it for another couple weeks and go back to business as usual.

I still have a lot to do to get ready for Christmas. Today, I have to finish alterations on Mrs. Claus' dress. Yes, I really am doing alterations for the Jolly Old Elf's wife. One of the job perks.

Sunday-Crockpot Chicken
Monday-Crockpot Beef Stroganoff
Tuesday-Taco Bake
Wednesday-Dilled Pot Roast
Thursday-Spaghetti
Friday- Church Christmas Party Potluck
Saturday- Pizza

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Please be patient!

It's been a bit crazy around here, but I wanted to assure everyone that we are still very much alive.

We have been dealing with a birthday, everyone home all day for an entire week due to Thanksgiving, me finding various ways to injure myself, prepping everyone in the family for the possibility of a move and I started working a nice little holiday job.

Initially, we were hoping to move over the Christmas holiday, but now we're to the point of hoping the move happens by Spring Break. I'm trying to be cautiously optimistic. It's a good thing that things are taking so long because it's giving The Boy more time to get used to the idea. He is very reluctant to move. He has responsibilities at church that he takes very seriously. If we move, there will be no other boys in his age group to take on these duties. He wants us to wait until he is 14 to move. He turns 14 in March. At the rate things are going, he may get his wish.

As to the holiday job, I am doing the Santa photos at the mall again. I really love this job. The mall I worked at before decided to take the Santa photos using one of the portrait places at the mall instead of contracting with a holiday event company, so that left me out of a job. I took last year off since Little Miss was so small. This year I'm at a new mall, much busier and I'm not the manager! That's really a good thing because I just enjoy taking pictures with no responsibilities beyond that. It doesn't seem like being the manager is that big of a deal, but it's a lot more than just making the parents happy. Been There, Done That...Got the T-shirt ... donated it to charity. Nope, I'll just stick to snapping unflattering pictures of screaming children and collecting outrageous amounts of money for them.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cupcake Fail

I'm no Martha. That was painfully obvious on this month's Martha Stewart Cupcake challenge. We were to make the turkey cupcakes.

We made them using One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes. This is Leelee's favorite cupcake recipe so far. I also like it because it's easy.

Go ahead, take a look at what they were supposed to look like. Then quickly come back and see mine....



Try not to laugh.


There is one big advantage of cupcakes this ugly...you have absolutely no remorse for eating them. In fact, by eating them, you are putting them out of their misery. Ugly cakes taste better than pretty cakes because there is no guilt involved. You don't feel like you are ruining some work of art.

Hopefully, we'll have better luck next month.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fun on a budget

People often ask how it is possible to feed a large family on the cheap or even do "normal" things like going to the movies when you have a large family. The secret is careful planning and savings.

Meal Planning is key to making it work on a budget for any family size. With meal planning, you know what you're going to eat and when. This should minimize those trips to the grocery store wondering what the heck you're going to feed the family.

Shopping with a List, making sure you have everything you need for the week, and keeping the grocery trips to the minimum are crucial. How many times have you gone in to the store for "just one thing" and left with a full cart? I try to avoid certain stores like the plague. I know if I walk in to WalMart, I will magically find no less than $50 worth of merchandise, even if I go in for toilet paper. The other store that is quickly becoming the bane of my financial existence is DollarTree. It's $10 every single time. I have to limit myself to once or twice a month.

Couponing works. It took me a long time to be convinced of this one. Even if you cook from scratch you can find coupons for yeast, sugars, whole grain pastas, meats, produce, etc. The best deals, I've found, are at the drug store for health and beauty products. Never pay for tooth paste. It's usually free between coupons and rebates. Just don't get too attached to certain brands.

Speaking of REBATES and PROMOTIONS, this is how we manage to do the fun stuff. When you combine the coupons with other promotions, you can really score. This summer, we managed to take all the kids (except The Boy) to see Toy Story 3 and eat snacks at the theater, thanks to several different promotions. At the theater, I paid an additional $2.50 because the movie was in 3D. The promotions were for things our family was purchasing anyway, such as upgrading our DVD movies to BluRay, cereal and snacks! In fact, we just got six tickets and more concession cash to a movie for next weekend. We're taking Leelee and some friends for her birthday. Again, not costing a thing.

Find FREE local ACTIVITIES. Our community center has a free mother's morning out program three days a week. There are several museums suitable for children in our community that are also free. This holiday season, we'll be having fun at the state Christmas Tree Lighting, Holiday Parade, Interfaith Nativity Exhibit, it's all about finding out what's in your area.

By saving in some areas, it allows us to have fun in other areas. It took me several months to save enough cereal codes (and I even begged from friends and family!) The kids really appreciate the hard work involved when we go anywhere. It makes the time all the more special, I think.

Most of the time, we do stay home and have our own fun. The kids have put on their own carnivals, mini-Olympics, and plays. Their favorite thing to do, however, is FAMILY GAME NIGHT. To be honest, it's one of my favorites, too.

I also started doing SWAGBUCKS. I'm earning one $5 gift card for amazon every week, on average. Not too bad for searching for random things. If you want to sign up, check out the referral widget on this page!

I'm curious to hear what other tips are out there for maximizing the fun without breaking the bank!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kitty Troubles

Josie adopted us a little more than a year ago. She integrated very well in to our family after she sneaked her children in to our home. We found new homes for her babies and then fixed the baby problem permanently. Josie has been a wonderful and patient cat.

With the cooler weather, Josie has decided she likes being outside. When she wants out, she jumps up on the backdoor, literally hanging from the window until someone lets her out. After she's had her fun, she will stare at us through the back door (still hanging by her paws) til we let her in.

I've never met a cat quite like Josie.

She has decided D is her human. She will sit on him and groom him like one of her kittens. D's siblings tend to think this is funny since D is *not* a cat person. Like most cats, Josie completely ignores those who love her and focuses her attention on the one person around that tolerates her existence. It's like the cat takes it as a personal challenge: Resistance is futile. I will assimilate you. You will serve me, puny human.

I do like to give Josie a special treat in the form of a can of cat food. She really appreciates me on those days and won't give me the evil eye like she normally does.

The last day or so, I've smelled the most horrendous smell, like something is dying. Josie likes to leave me special treats, like dead lizards. Somehow, I don't think a can of cat food really compares with the dead lizard, but Josie is proud of the carcasses she leaves near my shoes. Perhaps its some sort of peace offering. She recognizes that I do run things around here. D is merely her underling. I, however, deserve some sort of respectful disdain.

The lizards don't typically stink, so I was perplexed on what it could be. No one else in the house could smell anything. No one ever does.

I searched high and low. When I got low the smell got worse. I was certain I was going to find some dead rotting corpse gift. That was almost better than what I did find. One of the cans of soft cat food had been punctured and slowly was rotting. Go ahead and throw up, I give you permission.

I spent the better part of the afternoon trying to find some sort of scent combination to get rid of the stench.

Josie was also the center of trouble around 2 in the morning. D and I were roused from a very peaceful sleep by the sound of someone breaking in to our home!

CRASH.

Then the cat sounded like someone stepped on her and was trying to strangle her. D and bolted out of the room to figure out what was going on as the wailing continued, followed by a SLAM in the girls' room.

Josie was carrying on like she was under attack, trying to ram herself into the window. Was it possible the cat had finally lost her mind?

Nope. She is just insanely territorial. Perched on the other side of the window with a smug look was another cat, taunting Josie with that "You can't catch me, neener neener" look.

We had to physically remove Josie from the girls' room and shut the door. Josie spent the next 20 minutes prowling the house and looking out every window making sure the other cat wasn't there.

Maybe we ought to invest in one of those Beware of Cat signs!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ten Tips for New Moms

It's a bit sad for me to be moving out of the baby stage, but I do have some tips for new moms. Twittermoms is sponsoring a program with Lysol to give tips to new moms. I really miss the baby stage. I love newborns. They are so snuggly. And they need you. And they don't talk back. And when you put them down, they are exactly where you left them.

Having had six kids, I would like to pass on some tips to other new moms welcoming home baby.

1. Don't do too much. It's really easy to fall into the supermom trap. The hormones are flying high and you no longer fill like a Macy's Thanksgiving Parade balloon. But the best thing you can do is stay in bed and let everyone do everything. It's ok! Take time to recover physically.

2. Sleep when the baby sleeps. This tip you hear all the time, but it's true. Baby's sleep schedule is crazy. Avoid the temptation to get "caught up" on things when baby is sleeping. Your body will thank you for it.

3. If someone asks if she can do anything, be specific on your needs. A good friend will be more than happy to help wash floors if you need it!

4. Consider a Post Partum Doula. A Post Partum Doula is like a maid for after you have the baby. She does the things you can't ask your mom or mother-in-law to do. She makes you take care of yourself. I had one after the birth of my third child and it was by far the best recovery. She took my older kids to the park, scrubbed my floors, brought me food. It was great!

5. Know what is normal for a nursing baby. One common concern among new moms is knowing what's normal when baby eats. A newborn's stomach is the size of a marble and will grow over time. It is absolutely NORMAL for a baby to want to nurse every hour! The more you nurse the baby, the more milk you make. Every single bottle offered to the baby will impact your supply.

6. Input equals Output. If you are concerned about whether or not baby is eating enough, pay attention to how many wet and poopy diapers. Baby is eating enough if there are 6-8 wet diapers a day. Babies also typically wet when they poop.

7. Be specific with your partner. A lot of dads are clueless. They couldn't do anything during the pregnancy and now that the baby's here, they are scared. The only thing that seems to help baby is being with mom. So dad's job continues to be taking care of mom. But, you need to be specific with what you need. Is it the trash? the dishes? Men aren't mind readers and are fixers. If they see you and baby getting frustrated with nursing, they are going to say use formula because it's an instant fix. it's something the dad knows will solve the problem. If this isn't an option you want to consider, make sure it's known in advance. Get a panic plan in place.

8. Be true to your heart. If it feels wrong for you, then it's probably wrong. This is your baby! Trust your heart not what the "experts" say. you are your baby's best advocate!

9. You don't have to please everyone. Say no to unwanted visitors. Say no to unwanted tasks. Get in the habit now of saying NO. People will be upset but that is their issue, not yours!

10. Remember the Yard Stick. Imagine your child's life is a yard stick. Each year of life is marked by one inch on the stick. See how small that first year of life is? And those tiny marks are each month! This newborn, needy, sleepless time is just a blip. It will be gone. I know how hard it is getting through the days that feel like they will drag on forever without sleep. But it really is gone so fast.

I can't emphasize how important the Yard Stick is. My oldest child was born at 4 lbs 1 oz. He spent 3 weeks in the NICU. It felt like it would never end. So many of his stages felt like they would never end. But now, The Boy is 4 inches taller than me. He's in the 8th grade. He doesn't need me as much as he did back then!

These moments when baby needs you and only you are so precious and fleeting. Cherish them.

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Lysol® Wee Wisdom blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Lysol Mission for HealthNewborn Baby

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ohhh scary

OK, So I downloaded a new APP for my phone that takes cool pictures.

I snapped these on Halloween night. My BFF did the make up on the kids and wow...it's pretty amazing.

Leelee's Queen of Hearts suddenly looked Very Tim Burton. And let's face it...Danger Girl is the epitome of the walking dead.





Wednesday, October 27, 2010

costumes!

Confession: I've spent the better part of this week sewing Halloween Costumes. Three days. Two costumes.

I better score mega cool mom points for this.

So many of the costumes in the store just don't hold up well. For most families, this isn't a big deal. The kids wear the costume one night, maybe a few more times, but they don't get regular use. The costumes are relatively disposable.

That's not the case for our family.

We have a huge storage box full of costumes. I love costumes. I particularly enjoy seeing my kids play dress up. Even Leelee plays dress up still. She doesn't call it dress up. She calls it Make Overs and puts her sisters in costume and does their make up. Then they put on a fashion show. It's still dress up.

Our costumes need to last. They are played with as much, if not more, than the regular toys.

And so, I'm pretty much forced to make their costumes each Halloween. They practically have to twist my arm to get me to do it (ha ha). Actually, I love to sew costumes more than anything else, except maybe aprons. I love the fantasy. The kids faces light up. They get to play like little kids! What's not to love about that?

This year, I had three children that wanted to be zombies, or variations on the undead. Tonight was out Trunk n Treat at church. The Boy went as a survivor of the zombie apocalypse. Like most years, he was the only one that "got" his costume. I suggested he wear a cardboard box painted to look like Corn Pops and carry a knife...you know, be a CEREAL KILLER. As D says, "gee, I wonder where The Boy gets it from" LOL

Little B was your garden variety zombie. Quite literally. A zombie from Plants vs Zombies.



Danger Girl wanted to be a zombie ninja, but at the last minute, I convinced her to be the Bride of Frankenstein. AND...I got her in a dress! WOOT! Her hair was MUCH bigger than this when we left the house, but it rained...




I saved the best for last.

First up, Miss Fabulista as Cinderella. This is a costume I made. It took me about two hours and cost...$7!





And my crowning achievement (or what really took up all my time)...Leelee as the Queen of Hearts. This costume took forever to complete and a large amount of fabric. I made some mistakes (like forgetting a crucial bodice adjustment) and had to pin the bodice up on her shoulders. But it looked fabulous on her and I'm pretty much the only one who notices the mistakes.




And just because I love these last two pictures. They really show the fun she has in the get up...


Monday, October 25, 2010

menu plan monday--oct 25

This month has just flown by. Tomorrow, The Terrorist official graduates from the terrible 3s to the Fabulous 4s. I am sure she's going to be totally fabulous from here on out. No one tell me any different! I'm going to live with my delusion until it becomes a reality.

She wanted pizza for her birthday dinner. We made pizza Saturday night and had cupcakes. She was quite happy. All she wanted for her birthday was a purple pony. Purple ponies were in short supply everywhere except the dollar store. The Fabulista was thrilled with the purple pony from the dollar store.

This week is a busy one (ok, what week isn't busy for us?) with the church trunk n treat, school meetings, you know...all the usual stuff. Sorry there aren't any links this week. Much of the menu is coming from the November issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray.

Menu

Sunday: Pot Roast
Monday: Enchiladas
Tuesday: lemon chicken with biscuit topping
Wednesday: Chili cookoff at the church
Thursday: pork scallops with apples and sweet potatoes
Friday: pancakes
Saturday: Pizza

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sleep and Soda

Aside from the back to school cleaning challenge I've been failing miserably at, I'm also not getting enough sleep.

Not getting enough sleep really wears you down.

I think about my toddlers what they are like when they don't get enough sleep. How silly of me to think I was any different!

I've been such a bad mom because I've been tired. Plain and simple. No patience. No energy. No motivation.

My solution? Drinking caffeine sodas, of course!

Initially, I started drinking the sodas because I read it helped those with ADD to focus. I found I had more energy and was getting a quite a bit done. I thought it was a total win.

Then the sleeping stopped. I would be up doing things around the house til midnight, then lie in bed til 2 a.m. trying to sleep. The little ones are up by 7 and we are out the door by 730. I'd be dragging by noon and in need of a pick me up. Really, someone my age should not be existing on basically 5 hours of sleep! Ok, NO ONE can possibly be living a healthy life on just five hours of sleep.

So, I'd drink another soda and find myself up til the wee hours. It was a vicious cycle.

Three weeks ago, I made a commitment to myself to go to bed earlier. I was a better mom, but there were times when I found myself hitting Sonic for a 50 cent Dr. Pepper. I realized I was really throwing away money and my well being. It had to stop.

I went cold turkey off the soda. I relapsed. I was up til 3 a.m. I was a bear. I was a bad mom. I was miserable. My kids were miserable.

No more caffeine sodas. No more staying up til midnight. Bed at a reasonable hour is a good expectation for everyone in the family! I guess just because I'm mom doesn't mean I'm above the rules.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

I'm on a total cupcake kick. I got the Martha Stewart Cupcakes book recently and was totally hooked. If you love to bake, this is a must have for your cookbook collection. I judge a cookbook by how many recipes I actually use out of it. So far, every recipe has turned out wonderfully. I keep going back to it.

Cupcakes are generally great because they are small and there's really no guessing on the portion size.

The book also has some great recipes for icings. I'm not big on icing or frosting on cakes. I like a nice glaze, but for me...the best part is the cake. The less sugary frosting, the more cake I get to eat. The exception being Costco Cakes: white cake, cream cheese icing, with cheesecake filling...and it has to be cold.

There is a great blog featuring the Martha Stewart Cupcakes. This month, the group made Snickerdoodle Cupcakes.

My little Fabulista (formerly The Terrorist, but she's turning 4 and isn't so terrorizing anymore), has started referring to herself as Little Chef and me as Big Chef. She wanted to help me bake cupcakes. How could I say no to this face?




She loved helping me scrape down the sides as we mixed. I try to give her all sorts of jobs that are kid friendly but can't mess up the finished product. Also important to remember to have things pre-measured so you don't end up with too much...say salt...or mixing up the amount of baking soda vs baking powder...or forget how much flour you've added already. Not that any of that has happened to me (recently)!




Of course one of the best parts about baking with mom...Eating the beaters.



As I said before, I'm not a big frosting person. Leelee made cupcakes a few days before. We were out of frosting and she made the fluffy vanilla frosting from Martha's book. This keeps pretty well in the fridge and after a few days, is the same consistency as frosting in a can. According to Martha, one batch of frosting is enough for one batch of her cupcakes. For our family, it's enough for 3 batches. We just reused that frosting for this recipe. Even tho it wasn't the light and fluffy variety that is suggested for the snickerdoodle cupcakes, it was still delicious!




Martha Stewart's Snickerdoodle Cupcakes


Makes 28

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • Seven-Minute Frosting

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.
  3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
  4. To finish, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip (Ateco No. 809 or Wilton No. 1A), pipe frosting on each cupcake: Hold bag over cupcake with tip just above top, and squeeze to create a dome of frosting, then release pressure and pull up to form a peak. Using a small, fine sieve, dust peaks with cinnamon-sugar. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are frosted; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.



Menu Plan Monday- Oct 11

A whole week went by with very little chance to blog. Don't worry. D did something stupid (love ya, honey!) and I will blog about it once he's not so sensitive about it. The drugs are starting to wear off, so he's a wee bit cranky.

This is fair week, but because of life happenings, we're not doing the fair this year. It's a good thing because this is a crazy week without adding going to the fair pretty much every day in to the mix.

The kids are staging a fair of their very own in the backyard. They have plans to wake up at 630 a.m. to set the whole thing up. If any of them happen to wake me up in the process...well, it won't be pretty.


Last week we had some delicious food. D was disappointed when he came home from work Friday and discovered we weren't having pizza. "But it's Friday. We always have pizza on Friday!" So, pizza is making its return to Friday night. We ended up having pizza Saturday night. I changed it up a bit and made a few deep dish pizzas instead of three larges. We had BBQ with banana peppers and a margarita pizza (yum!)

The Maple Walnut Chicken was so bad, D opened up a can of soup...and he hates soup. Only one of the kids liked it. It was a universal YUK, which doesn't happen very much around here.


Sweet Mustard Beef Roast
was definitely the highlight. It was absolutely delicious!

MENU

Sun- Buttermilk Fried Chicken (from the plaid BH&G cookbook...CLASSIC!), squash w/ carmelized onion and garlic, fresh veggies
Monday: Ham and potatoes
Tuesday- TBD
Wednesday-- Slow Roasted Pork with cabbage, carrots and carroway
Thursday --Deep Dish Mexican Meatza Pizza
(this is a family favorite)
Friday--Pizza
Saturday--Breakfast

Monday, October 4, 2010

Menu Plan Monday--Oct 4

Enough about who's saying what around here! It's time to focus on what we're eating.

I finally got around to making the Mango BBQ Pulled Pork. It was amazing. Leelee loved it and she hates pretty much all "BBQ." What she really hates are tomato based sauces other than pasta sauce. This was a vinegar based sauce.

The tostada goop was made with major variations. I didn't have beans, so I substituted rice and corn. I also forgot to put it in the crockpot, so I poached the chicken instead. It was a HUGE hit. Definitely going to make it again.

MENU OCT 4

Sunday--Pulled Pork
Monday--CheeseBurger Mac n Cheese
Tuesday-- Chicken Broccoli Casserole
Wednesday-Sweet Mustard Beef Roast
Thursday-Maple Walnut Chicken w/ apple cheddar rice
Friday-Spaghetti
Saturday-Breakfast

Speech Therapy

This week is starting out quite well. It finally feels like fall here in central Alabama. I actually had to put on long pants and socks. Today, I'm even wearing a sweater! The high today is in the mid 70s. It's downright chilly!

It's taken me 6 years, but I can finally wrap my head around mid 70s being soup weather. Of course, in about two months when it's still in the mid 70s and I'm hanging up Christmas lights, we'll talk about how well I'm adjusting to the southern climate.

It was a typical Monday for me. Running late. Can't find my car keys. The kids missed the bus. On the way to taking Little B and Danger Girl to school, I remembered I had a meeting at Little B's school at 945. Dropped Danger Girl off at her school, ran my errands, did the preschool drop off, ran home, showered, then took Little B to school just in time for the meeting.

Little B is going back in to speech therapy. He has problems with his Rs. Did you know there are 21 variations of the letter R? Because of all the different variations in how R is used in English, when the R sound is off, it effects the way the child's entire speech sounds. Of those 21 variations, Little B can consistently make one of them...RL as in squirrel. He can sometimes say AIR as in FAIR. He failed to make all the remaining R variants. He'll attend speech twice a week, probably for the next two school years. Hopefully he won't be going off to middle school getting speech therapy.

This isn't a surprise to us. Little B started speech therapy at age 4 with a major articulation delay. D and I were pretty much the only people who could understand him and that was only about half the time. He caught up to what were considered "normal" delays in second grade and was dismissed from speech. I don't really understand how a kid who had to be taught how to make pretty much all sounds properly would suddenly figure out R on his own, but that's the way the school system works. Now that they consider him "broken" again, we can move forward with fixing it.

He's very excited about going back in to speech. He's been very self-conscious about his delays.

Danger Girl sounds just like Little B when she talks, but for right now, it's considered developmentally appropriate. I'm probably going to ask for an evaluation anyway, just in case I've become so accustomed to listening to her that I'm missing something. It can't hurt. I just have to remind the speech pathologist that she's an older first grader, rather than a young one! On paper, she should be in second. Pesky birthday a week before the cut-off.

Meanwhile Little Miss is finally starting to talk. She's lagging behind where the others (except for the Boy) were at this age. But she's making progress. She says important words like mommy and chocolate and cupcakes.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Six Words Friday: For the Record

For the Record

For the record, I am employed
I get paid in hugs, kisses
Dirty Laundry, Dirty Dishes, Dirty Floors
Don't get dirty or clean alone

Writing, Sewing, couponing, volunteering, tutoring, cleaning
Mom is a full-time job

Don't let people tell you differently

I write. I'm good at it.
I went to college for it.
Admit it, I've made you laugh
I have educated and informed you
That makes me a real writer
Plus, sometimes I actually make money

Sewing is an old school skill
Never thought I'd be a seamstress
Never thought my work was good
But it is. People buy it.
The proof is in the profit.

I wanted to be a writer
Now I sew more than write

I was never to be mom
I spent more time as mom
Than on any other job/hobby

Yet somewhere I am mocked, undervalued
Because I am not working/producing
As if 21 hours of labor
(that is total for 6 kids
go ahead hate me for it)
As if bringing 6 brilliant kids
into this world wasn't enough contribution

I am raising them to be:
Smart, Sensitive, hardworking, creative, brilliant, productive

I am taking my intelligence, skills
and teaching. Giving back. Giving forward.

Future generations will call me blessed
Because I have blessed my children
with my time. with my heart.

For the record: I am MOM

Monday, September 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday--Sept 27

It's Monday again. This morning we woke up to fall. It was wonderful! Saturday, it was 97 degrees and today, we haven't hit 80 yet! I've lived in the south long enough to know this probably won't take. Fall really won't be here til November. This week of 80 degree weather, according to our local weather guy, is unseasonably cold. Meanwhile, a friend who just moved to Alaska reported it snowed there yesterday.

So we're going to continue pretending it's fall. I'm doing some baking this week. The kids made peanut butter cookie cupcakes from scratch without my help last night. Super yummy. And I have to make cinnamon rolls for the teacher appreciation breakfast this week.

Sadly, much of this week's menu is a repeat of last week because we just never got to it. I had to change plans several times!

MENU

Sunday- Pot Roast
Monday- Taco Salad
Tuesday- Pork Loin, rice pilaf, steamed broccoli
Wednesday-Tostada Goop
Thursday-Pulled Pork (i swear we are really going to try this recipe!)
Friday- pizza
Saturday- baked spaghetti, breadsticks

Friday, September 24, 2010

Six Words Friday: Thankful

Thankful

So many things fill my heart
Bringing me joy, peace, comfort, contentment

The Boy: making everyone grow, adapt
Square peg + round hole = no problem!

Leelee: amazing, smart, confident, giggly, blossoming
Child to young woman so quickly

Little B: my sweet, sensitive boy
The biggest heart; thinks he's funny

Danger Girl: scruffy, dirty, sometimes smelly
Curly haired, ambitious, nothing stopping her

The Terrorist: Soon to be Fabulous
Growing in confidence, loving being herself

Little Miss: My little baby girl
Not little, not baby, definitely girl

My children. My heart is filled
You bring me the greatest joy
For each one, I am thankful

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What was I thinking?

Sometimes moms take on way too much. I'm terribly guilty of it.

I blame my mother. She doesn't read my blog, so I can do that.

With all the small kids at home, I've not really had the opportunity to volunteer in the kids' classrooms. Most of the schools around here have a no sibling rule and finding a babysitter isn't always easy. The good news for that is I'm totally off the hook for being room mom. I don't have to help out in the copy room. And teacher lunch duty? Nope.

The bad news? When there is something I do have the time and ability to help with, I tend to over do it.

This week was the perfect example.

Little B's school has the fall festival. They needed raffle items and goodies for the bake sale.

Normal parents purchase gift cards and prebaked goodies. If the parents have time, they'll crack open a box mix or scoop out all that cookie dough leftover from the last school fundraiser.

I can't do that. No. I decided to handmake an apron. Not a biggie since I have the etsy store (which sadly is empty because I've been spending so much time sewing and just giving it away.) I finished the apron last night around 11 and it was absolutely adorable. I wanted to keep it for myself.

Then the bake sale. I decided to make Banana Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Cream Frosting. The cupcakes were a snap. Cake from scratch really isn't that difficult.

The frosting was another story all together. First, homemade caramel from sugar and water. Second, heating egg whites and sugar over a double boiler than 10 minutes of beating into a meringue! And it wasn't over yet! That frosting took me 45 minutes to make...for FROSTING. Frosting is supposed to be the easy part. It's not supposed to take longer to make the frosting than it does to cook up the entire batter of cupcakes.

Once the cupcakes were frosted, I found cute little boxes for them. I stopped short of decorating them. I needed to get to watch Survivor.

This morning, I woke up late. And it hit me...The small boxes were not 9 year old boy on a school bus safe. I wasn't entirely sure they were 9 year old boy walking them from the car into the school safe, since he also had to carry the apron and his school books.

And this is where the "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING" comes into play.

Twenty minutes before we needed to leave, I decided to make a bag for him to carry everything. Normal families have plastic grocery bags to use. I have reusable totes. I have just enough for my groceries each week.

Thankfully, I have mad sewing skillz and whipped up a reusable grocery bag in those 20 minutes. I didn't get to finish it like I normally would, but it didn't look just thrown together either. Yay!

Amazingly, I managed to get Little B to school on time. The crossing guard was like "Hurry!" and the baked goods and apron didn't look like they were too poorly handled.

Danger Girl ended up being 10 minutes late to school. Not too shabby.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Menu Plan Monday-- September 20

This week D goes back to tutoring a few days a week. It makes my life a little bit harder in the evenings since I have to juggle 4 kids getting homework done, all the papers signed, and dinner on the table at a decent hour. I really don't like not having D eating dinner at the table with us. There is a big push to get families back to eating dinner together as there are many benefits, especially as kids get older.

Eating dinner together has always been something we've done. Not doing it feels wrong. I know only D will be missing and I am perfectly fine to sit and eat with the kids, but there is still this feeling of our family not being completely there. It's not the same without him.

Sadly, I'm not able to juggle everything and we usually end up eating dinner late on the nights he tutors...usually about 6:30. Ok, that doesn't sound too late but when the little kids go to bed at 7:30 it doesn't leave much time for after dinner fun. Things feel very rushed and a rushed mama means a cranky mama.

In order to help things not be so rushed at dinner, I have to be organized. And, well...I'm not. But, that's my goal for the next few weeks: Get in to the habit of having dinner organized! It goes beyond just having the menu planned out. It goes to me actually starting dinner early enough. I'm already having to use the crockpot on Wednesday nights because of activity night. But I also don't want use it every night.

Maybe a dissection of our afternoon schedule is in order?

330: Pick up The Boy and Leelee
4:00-4:20 Pick up Little B and Danger Girl
4:20-4:40 Supervise Chores/afternoon snack (don't even get me started! the kids are starved and will whine and complain and will DIEEEEE before dinner. Some days, I feel like letting them!)
4:40 Homework time begins and I start trying to get dinner together.

Between all the interruptions, I usually don't get dinner actually started til 5 or 530. And unless I'm doing a 30-minute meal, dinner ends up pretty late.

I would love it anyone had suggestions for me!

Meanwhile, here's the meal plan for the week.

Sunday--Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Monday--Ham & scalloped potatoes
Tuesday-- leftovers
Wednesday--Pulled Pork we didn't get to last week
Thursday-- Tostada Goop
Friday--Pasta
Saturday--Breakfast

Friday, September 17, 2010

$1 polo upcycle!

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was inspired by A New Dress A Day to rework clothing that was no longer the correct size.

Leelee has to wear royal purple or white polos for school. The royal purple shirts are very difficult to find. It killed me to spend $15 on one when I could get any other color at WalMart for $6 or for $1 at a consignment sale. I'm all about finding things on sale. This is one of biggest peeves with school uniforms! Royal purple isn't a common uniform color either. I was not expecting to find any at all at the consignment sales this season since it is this school's first year in uniforms.

I was pleasantly surprised (read: I screamed and did a little dance in the aisle) when I found a purple polo shirt for $1! The only problem? It was a size 18/20 and Leelee can still rock the 10/12s.

I bought the shirt anyway hoping that maybe it would fit. It didn't. She was swimming in it. And I knew there was no way she'd fit in to it...pretty much ever.

What harm then, after spending only $1, could I do with a pair of scissors and my serger?

I snipped an inch off of each side and half an inch off the sleeve seams. I left the sleeve length just so the shirt would be a bit different from the other kids. I like to find little ways to set her apart and assert my own disdain for school uniforms :P I was a rebel. My sweet daughter, even tho she has a funky sense of style, is most definitely not a rebel.

She refused to wear the oversized shirt. Leelee gave me the dreaded tween eye roll. We did get some smiley after shots...you know, when she looked fabulous.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

100 days til Christmas!

Can you believe that the holidays are fast approaching? I swear, I just found my hidden stash of gifts from last year and it's already time for me to find another hiding place so great that I lose half the presents again!

Thankfully, the way we do Christmas it's only the stocking stuffers that are getting lost. With a large family, the volume of things coming in to our very small house between Christmas and the holiday birthdays was a bit...stressful. We had to make some changes.

The biggest change we did was to get a large gift for the whole family. Two years ago, it was a Wii. Last year? A new TV. We waited in line at Target on Black Friday for 4 hours to get that TV. D says never again.

This year I'm not sure what big family gift we are going to get. D wants a new house. I am pretty sure he's going to have to wait on that one!

While I ponder on the family gift, I am still going to try to make this holiday season as organized as possible. If you're interested in getting organized this holiday, head on over to 100 days til Christmas. I'm sure you'll be inspired!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Facebook Page for the Blog

Hey, if you feel so inclined...Like this blog on facebook! You'll get updates and all of that.

Menu Plan Monday--Sept 13

September is zooming by! I'm pretty excited about that. I've never cared much for September. It's supposed to be fall and cool weather. But down south, it's cooling off...to the low 90s. I'm anxious for October when the weather really starts to chill.

Last week, I was so desperate for it to be fall that I drank a cup of cocoa just so I could pretend. It was 87 degrees. It just wasn't the same. After drinking the cocoa, I really needed a big glass of ice water.

Fall also signals the time for us to get ready for the fair. I'm extremely excited and hopeful about our entries for this year. I actually have a pie that I think is really good! Maybe I'll actually place in pie baking this year (I'm not holding my breath or anything...just really dreaming big!)

The boys are having a sleep over this weekend in anticipation of the premier of Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 3. so Not my thing but they are totally excited. We're putting them outside in a tent. Maybe do some indoor s'mores. Definitely Homemade Pizza.

Menu Plan:

Sunday: Grilled Beef Burritos
Monday: Sweet Potato Crusted Buttermilk Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits, veggies
Tuesday: Some sort of ground beef dish. Need a suggestion!
Wednesday: Crockpot Chicken
Thursday: Pulled Pork with Mango BBQ Sauce
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Feeling Inspired

This weekend I had an aha! moment. My dishwasher is broken and I'm having to hand wash dishes. I usually hate doing dishes. I'd rather do laundry than dishes and I hate laundry. Dishes are a chore I usually pawn off on the kids. D often reminds me we had lots of kids just so we don't have to do chores any more :P

The kids have never had to hand wash dishes and I really didn't want to deal with the mess of teaching them right now. I went to the dr and they found a tennis ball sized cyst on my right ovary. So I'm not in the most pleasant moods with all the pain. It's just easier for me to do some things myself.

And I discovered something rather amazing while doing dishes. First, I get to wear my aprons and I love wearing aprons. Second, when I start hand washing dishes, the kids scatter to the winds. No one comes in the kitchen to talk to me or ask for anything. They are afraid I'm going to give them a job to do. Suddenly, washing dishes has become downright desirable way for me to spend my time! Silence! Glorious silence in a house full of kids.

Now, I'm not as anxious to replace the dishwasher!

The other big discovery was it doesn't take as long to wash the dishes as I feared. Even on the weekend when the kids are home dirtying every single dish in the house.

Tonight, I felt brave enough to tackle baking cupcakes from scratch. I'm not talking about out of a box scratch. This is Martha Stewart's Cupcake Book from scratch. In keeping with being my children, they couldn't decide which amazing cupcake for me to make. We put all the ones they couldn't decide upon in to a bowl and D drew out the winning recipe. Naturally, there were protests but once they realized it was really the only fair way, the screams were silenced.

We made the Devil's Food Cupcakes.I don't like Devil's Food. These cupcakes made me once again realize that there are few foods I don't like. It's that manner of preparation that usually kills the food. Martha has made the perfect recipe. It was simply amazing. I didn't have the ingredients to do any icing, and I don't particularly care for icing anyway. So we just ate cake. Glorious cake.

Another inspiration for me this weekend came from a blog I found called New Dress A Day. I have this dress I love. I wore it all the time when I was pregnant. It's fun and billowy and maternity. Being that I am not nor will I ever be pregnant again, the dress needs to find new life in my closet. I have plans to make it in to a skirt. Hopefully I will get to it this week.

At the kids consignment sale I found a polo in the right shade of purple for Leelee's school uniform. Of course it was an XL and she wears a medium. BUT it was also $1 so I figured, what the heck, let's see if we can't make it in to a medium. i've got mad sewing skillz, ya know. Maybe the madness is the fact that I think I can take in a polo shirt, but whatever. i cut it up and it was $1. I am going to attempt the alterations tomorrow while the terrorist is at preschool and little miss is down for her nap.

So what are you inspirations for the week? Anything got y'all excited to do something new?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Six Words Friday: Beginnings

Children are growing up so quickly
Blossoming and showing signs of independence
It's times like this I wonder
How much they really need Mama
Then I call on MY Mama
She is quick to remind me
They will always need their Mama

Having babies is just the beginning
The journey is watching them grow
The excitement is seeing them bloom
The fear is watching them fall

But they will still need Mama
Catching them. Holding them. Helping them.
Leading them to that next step

Each step is another new beginning
Another journey to take. Alone. Together.

My goal: to give them confidence
Their goal: to give me grey hair

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What goes around comes around!

We have a neighbor that needs a few lessons on how to be nice in addition to how to drive. She can't back out of her driveway without needing to come all the way to the curb in front of our house. When she first moved in, she asked us not to park in front of our house because of this (and the fact she doesn't have insurance!)

Being neighborly, we started parking both our vehicles in our driveway. Sometimes, parking in front of our house is unavoidable since we have two vehicles.

In June, someone from her property back straight out and hit D's car...then took off. They did sizable damage to his car and we had to pay the deductible to get it fixed. The officer who investigated the accident said we were not parked illegally (I asked!)

Fast forward to yesterday...D's car was parked on the street because I needed the van. She came over and asked us to move. I happily moved the car for her, even though no one else on the block seems to have the same trouble maneuvering out of driveways with other cars parked on the street!

Today, D moved the car to the street so he could take the kids to church. I'm not feeling well, so I stayed home. Neighbor comes over banging on the door demanding I move the car. Problem is, I can't. D has the keys. His car has an electronic key and we've never gotten around to ordering another one. I told neighbor I would be more than happy to call D to move the car, but it would be at least 3o minutes before he could get back here.

She completely flipped out at me. She used all sorts of foul language. I didn't yell back. I told her she needed to calm down. She threatened to call the police. I refused to yell at her. That just made her more angry, I think!

Neighbor had company over and they were blocking my driveway from backing out! Oh the hypocrisy!

I went to call D and she eventually managed to get her small pick-up out of the driveway. If she would have turned just slightly, there wouldn't have been an issue at all. She just can't drive.

I was so upset, I locked the doors to the house. I peeked out the window and the realization hit me that the green pick-up parked in front of her house just might be the one that hit us in June! I got much more brave and walked over to the house and inspected the vehicle. Sure enough, red paint on the bumper. I took a picture of the damage AND the license plate, found our police report and called the police.

:D

The officer said he'd be right over. He took FOREVER. But when he arrived he explained the reason for the delay.

There are two ways to get to our house from the police station. For whatever reason, he opted to go the back way. And, turning on to that road from a street in our neighborhood was a green truck. The officer, thinking it couldn't be *that* easy, decided to follow him anyway and check the plate. Sure enough, it was the truck in question.

Officer informed the driver he was investigating a hit & run. Cited the driver for suspended license and no insurance (shocker--NOT). The driver said he had no idea about the accident and had never been to our neighbor's house. Officer said he was a reconstruction expert and if he found out driver was lying, he'd arrest him for giving a false report to police, and asked driver again if he was sure he didn't know anything about the accident!

Wouldn't you know it, but the driver admitted to being the one to hit our car. He was also cited with failure to report an accident and fleeing the scene of an accident. He earned himself about $1000 in tickets.

And the officer wouldn't let him leave til someone else got there to drive his truck because poor mr driver didn't have a driver's license.

I am sure relations with our neighbor are not going to improve over this. I fully expect some sort of retaliation. But, I know the law is on my side. I asked the officer if D's car was parked legally and he said yes. So, I'm going to inform her of this if she makes an issue of it again.

We are trying to do the neighborly thing but, my goodness, you don't scream and curse at someone like that! Nor do you lie to the police when your friend hits a car and takes off.

I'm totally going to smile and wave next time I see her :P

Monday, August 30, 2010

Use # 1007689 for duct tape

Yesterday, The Boy got a small scrape on his arm. It didn't even really warrant a band aid. He completely freaked out. There wasn't any blood. No pain. But he was certain as the sun rises in the east that he was going to get an infection.

The band aid wouldn't stay on. Two band aids wouldn't stay on. Neither would three. By this point, we're out of band aids. Finally, his stroke of genius hit. He adhered toilet paper to his arm with duct tape.

And when that fell off, he did it again. and again. and again.


Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. By Einstein's definition, The Boy is insane, not an Aspie.

We also had unexpected company and a house that was neglected because I'd been sewing. That combined with the duct tape, pretty much sealed my complete and total mortification.

I finally got sick of seeing my kid walk around with duct tape on his arm. I knew it was going to be an issue in the morning for school, so I found some gauze and wrapped his arm up. He started playing with the adhesive and eventually it failed. The Boy wanted to put it back on with...duct tape!

By this point, I am beyond reasoning with him that the tiny scrape on his arm is fine. He's up more than an hour past his bedtime. D and I are no longer patient. We promise (quite loudly) that he will NOT die from this scrape. It will NOT become infected. But if he doesn't go to bed RIGHT NOW, he might have other things to worry about! GO TO BED NOWWWW!

Today, he is very much alive and still very much obsessed with the scrape. He swears there is something wrong with it. It has a scab with fibers sticking out. The fibers being the pieces of toilet paper he was securing with the duct tape.

He is still insisting that the toilet paper and duct tape have nothing to do with the presence of fibers on the wound and the lack of hair on his arm.

Meanwhile, I am fairly certain that the presence of duct tape in my life is responsible for my brain exploding.

The plan is...no plan

The week has not started well. Dead car battery. Kids missed the bus. Late for two schools. It's left me rather flustered.

I only have a rough idea of what we're eating this week...namely food. Yes, we're eating food.

Sunday--pulled pork
Monday--pork curry (leftovers)
Tuesday-- Green Chile Burgers (publix meal)
Wednesday-- Sweet Pepper Chicken
Thursday--chili, maybe
Friday--summer pasta
Saturday--pizza

Friday, August 27, 2010

Six Words Friday: Wait



The air is finally cooling down
the low 90s instead of high
the small change is just beginning

but the change takes so long
Not until October will it cool
Enough to really feel like fall

Just in time for the fair

I can't wait for the fall
I can't wait for the fair

It's my favorite time of year!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Candy Sushi & Birthdays


Danger Girl turns 7 tomorrow. She's driving me absolutely crazy about it. With six kids we don't do birthday parties for every single birthday. We just can't. If we did, we'd be hosting a birthday party pretty much every other month. I do not really like birthday parties, anyway. The kids do get friend parties for birthdays 5, 8, 10, 12, 13, and 16. Next year, by virtue of the kids' spacing, we will be having three birthday parties. This year, we had two.

Instead of a big party with lots of chaos, the birthday child gets to pick any restaurant he or she wants and has a special lunch date with D or I. We are gradually moving out of the fast food with a playland stage and in to the sit down stage. The Boy prefers all you can eat buffets. Leelee loves Italian. Little B always wants Mexican.

Danger Girl...she likes sushi. And we're not talking the california rolls. She loves nigiri .

She loves it so much that she asked if she could bring sushi on the day she brought home the snack bucket from school. I quickly explained that her teacher probably wouldn't appreciate her bringing raw fish to share with her classmates and they probably wouldn't eat it anyway!

Our compromise was candy sushi made from rice krispy treats, gummy sharks and fruit roll ups in lovely Shrek green. If you ever try to make candy sushi and it's really hot (like it is here 8 months out of the year), put the fruit roll ups in the freezer or else they will turn into a sticky gummy mess when you try to get it off the paper.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Menu Plan Monday--Aug 23

Big week around here! The Terrorist started preschool three days a week! It's actually a mother's morning out at our local community center, but we're calling it preschool. She is so excited. She came home today and wanted to do homework.

And since this is The Terrorist, you know this isn't going to end well. It ended with her asking to put her art work, to which I said "yes" and figured she'd put them up on the refrigerator with magnets. That would be too easy. She decided to attach them to the wall with elmer's glue. I know, I should have been in the kitchen observing her, but I was eating my lunch with no one begging for food or asking for anything! I was going to enjoy that particular blissful moment before dealing with impending disasters.

Speaking of impending disasters, if any of you have suggestions for how to lock my refrigerator, I would appreciate it! We have a side by side and the handles aren't open all the way around. This means traditional refrigerator locks won't work. Yesterday, The Terrorist helped herself to some strawberries and left the fridge open. Little Miss got there before I did and grabbed a carton of eggs and dropped it on the floor. Even when I'm on the ball, I'm still left cleaning up major messes throughout the day!

Menu Plan

Sunday--Breakfast (thanks to the dozen cracked eggs, we had omelets)
Monday-- Cola Roast (yum!)
Tuesday-- Paula Deen's Leftovers Shepherd's Pie
Wednesday-- Paula Deen's White Bean Chicken Chili
Thursday--HAwaiian Meatloaf
Friday--Danger Girl turns 7! She's requested PIZZA
Saturday--Spaghetti

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dessert Sunday! PB Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

We don't do a lot of dessert around here. If we're going to have dessert it's going to be Sunday night after a nice supper or Friday night with the pizza and movies.

Tonight's dinner was supposed to be a lovely roast. However, The Terrorist got in to the refrigerator and left the door open. Little Miss saw her opportunity and grabbed a dozen eggs and dropped the carton on the floor. The mess wasn't too bad since the eggs were still in the carton. But they were broken. We ended up having breakfast for dinner.

Dessert actually came earlier in the day. We had a potluck lunch immediately after church services. I opted to use make a crock pot dessert. From the comments of the crowd, it sounded like no one had seen dessert in the crock pot before! They were a bit apprehensive but once they tried it, my dessert was gone in a flash.

Like most hot fudge pudding cakes, this one was exceptionally rich. What makes this one special is peanut butter. Oh yes...peanut butter and hot fudge. It would have only been made better by vanilla ice cream, but that could quite possibly put it over the edge for richness. I think cool whip would be lovely, too, but I'm a vanilla ice cream kind of gal.

I made this recipe in my 6 qt crockpot and had to QUADRUPLE it! I think it was designed for a small crockpot. If I made this for my family, I think I would still have to at least triple the recipe. If you are serving at least 4 people, double it.

Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Pudding Cake


  • In a bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, and baking powder.
  • Add milk, oil and vanilla; stir until smooth.
  • Mix in peanut butter and pour into Crock-pot.
  • In the same bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup of sugar and cocoa powder.
  • Gradually stir in the boiling water.
  • Pour this mixture over mixture already in crock-pot.
  • DO NOT STIR
  • Cover and cook on High for 2 to 3 hours or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream, hot fudge sauce and top with your favorite nuts.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Six Words Friday: The Best

The Best time is spent here
With my family by my side
Children fighting, smiling, giggling, singing, sleeping
It's all here; it's all mine

The best fights start with pillows
When kids are supposed to be asleep

The best smiles are baby smiles
As they drift off to sleep

The best laughs are belly ones
That shake shake your whole body

The best songs are at bedtime
When everyone is quiet and still

The best sleeping comes after exhaustion
When you've played with your family

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Five Lessons every Child Should Learn

People are always asking how we do it having a large family. It boils down to knowing the basic lessons that every child should know. Twittermoms, once again is inspiring a post on the topic :) inspired by the life lessons that Nanny McPhee teaches in her latest movie. My kids are very excited to see the movie! We don't get out to movies very often.

Children are like little plants. In order to grow, they all need a little food, a little water and lots of sunshine. Add in plenty of talking to and lots of love, and you children will blossom!

But the life lessons...those are a bit harder to come by and take a bit more effort.

The first three life lessons are based on the three Rs. No, I'm not talking about reading, writing and arithmetic, but Reliability, Responsibility and Resourcefulness. I've blogged about these before, but they bare repeating. The next two life lessons build on that: Hard work and Charity.

Reliability

That means a child needs to know you can count on them. The child learns that when they make a promise it means something. It means when they make a promise, they follow through. And, it means you follow through, as well, with whatever you promise them!

Responsibility

Children learn responsibility through chores. Give them a job and teach them how to do it! Children can an do rise to challenges. Don't underestimate them. Even your two year old can help unload the dishwasher! Small and simple steps to do great big jobs later.

Resourcefulness

Set the children a task and let them figure out how to accomplish it. Let them set goals. Let them work it out. This can be done through imaginative play. Children don't need the latest and greatest toys. Let them create a world of their own. There is something pretty cool about seeing your child with a cardboard box, some duct tape, a few sticks and paint create something that gives everyone in the family a good time. Let them ask questions and figure out the answer themselves. It's not all that unusual to hear us answer "Google it!" when the kids ask questions!

Hard work

This is an area that is often neglected today. Children aren't expected to work. So much is given to them. But hard work gives the best rewards. Right now, we're facing a challenge with Leelee learning to play the flute. It's beyond anything she's done before. It's hard. She wants to quit. But, the value here isn't learning to play an instrument, it's about the process of learning to play.

Charity

Forgetting one's self in the service of others is something else lacking in many people today. Children are inherently selfish little creatures. Find ways for them to give back. There are many opportunities to give back in the home, to neighbors and the community at large.

One way to do it around here is when the kids are mean to each other, they have to do something nice to counteract each offense. The kids also participate in service projects through our church. Random acts of kindness and doing things without the expectation of reward will help children learn there is much more to life than meeting their own needs.

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Nanny
McPhee Returns blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift
card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday--Aug 16

The first week of school is done! Yay! I'm slowly getting things back in order around here.

I even found time to sew something for myself! I haven't done that in ages. It felt good to do something nice for myself. I should put that on my weekly "to do" list!

This week's biggest challenges are going to be (continuing) the schedule and getting in my sewing work. When the school sent home paperwork asking about occupation, I wrote down "seamstress" it sounded a little bit better than "blogger" since I actually get paid to sew for people whereas I don't really get paid from the blogging (aside from the occasional product or promotion).

Next week, the terrorist starts Mother's Morning Out three days a week! I am soooo excited. Three whole hours of just chasing after Little Miss. I have a feeling it's going to be more work without The Terrorist around LOL

We don't have any major adventures this week, which will be nice. It will make the menu planning a bit easier. We went off menu a lot last week, so much of this week's menu is recycled.


MENU

Sunday--Pork Loin in crockpot, biscuits, vegetables
Monday: BLTs
Tuesday: Brats & cabbage
Wedneday: Chicken soft tacos in the crockpot
Thursday: Hamburger casserole of some sort that i'll determine when i'm in the mood.
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: fish Sandwiches

Friday, August 13, 2010

Six Words Friday: This Much I Know


It is too hot to cook
It rains so I can't BBQ
The rain doesn't cool things off

It's too hot to play outside
The kids are bored and fighting
It is Friday so no homework
They think that means no chores
It's get to work or outside
Fighting is driving me absolutely crazy

Please please let it bedtime soon
Go to bed. go to bed!
I need my quiet time tonight

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tommee Tippee Explora Easi-Mat review


I was recently provided with an Explora Easi-Mat to review by the folks at Tommee Tippee.

The Explora Easi-Mat is designed for children who are moving on to solid foods. It's designed to hold plates, bowls and even silverware in place. It works best with the other Tommee Tippee Explora-line, but it also works with other flat bottomed dishes. It's dishwasher safe and it rolls up for easy storage and travel. It's also BPA- and Phthalate-free.

For those that also aren't familiar with Tommee Tippee:

Tommee Tippee, from the UK-based Mayborn Group Limited, the #1 brand of infant and toddler feeding products in Great Britain, is loved by parents and children alike and is one of the top brands of infant products and accessories in the global market. Tommee Tippee has received numerous brand accolades in Great Britain, including top ranks in the prestigious Mother and Baby Gold Awards – a head-to-head assessment of competitive products voted on by moms themselves. The Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature line of baby bottles has been chosen as Great Britain’s best baby bottle by The Mother and Baby Gold Awards: winning the category in 2006/7, 2008/9 and again in 2009/10. In 2009, Tommee Tippee was the first and only children’s feeding brand to be selected as a UK Superbrand in a nationwide poll of consumers, putting it on par with brands such as Microsoft®, Coca-Cola®, Nike®, Lego® and Google®.

I showed the product to a mom friend and she thought it was brilliant. When her little one was small, she used a couple suction cups to hold the bowls and plates on the table!

I do not own any of the other Tommee Tippee products. In fact, this was my first experience with the line. I'd heard rave reviews, so I was very excited to try it out ourselves. Little Miss loves to try to feed herself and it usually ends up a mess.

The first time I had D use it. He put it suction cup DOWN on the table and proclaimed it didn't work very well. We had to try several bowls and plates to find ones that we owned that worked. All of ours have been through many children and the bottoms have become slightly warped over time. In order for the suction cup to work, the bottoms MUST be flat. No slight bulging. And, some bowls that have too deep a rim on the bottom will also not work, unless there's some secret I don't know about.

Once we found plates that worked (plastic plates from Ikea worked best), the product worked as promised. Little Miss couldn't push her plate all over the table. Her food stayed in place in front of her. Much happier Little Miss. It did not, however, prevent her from picking up the plate and mat and dumping the whole thing on the floor. I have a feeling that would be an issue even if we had the proper plates!

I will continue to use the product, but not necessarily for Little Miss til she's out of her dumping phase. It does work well to hold flat bottomed cups and if we can prevent a few cups knocked over at dinner, then it's a real winner!

Monday, August 9, 2010

That's my kid!

I think this blog should be renamed Confessions of a Mom with INSANE CHILDREN!

Danger Girl is now in first grade. Her teacher asked them to fill out a get to know you sheet. Pretty standard. DG loves to write and did not wait for me to oversee this process.

When I rolled out of bed this morning, she had her sheet all filled out. It looked like a first grader did it. Generally, this is a good thing, but she goes to a school where parents do most of the projects. It's like the School for Future Stepford Families. I know some of the teachers read this blog (HI!!! LOVE YOU!!! KISSES!!!) but I also know they will tell you the parents do the projects. The parents who say they aren't helping are LYING. I'm the negligent rebel parent who makes sure my kid does her own work.

Anyway, DG shows me her favorites and it's all pretty standard. She loves red, all flavors of ice cream, her favorite sport is WRESTLING and her favorite hobby is Getting Hurt.

*sigh*

This is going to do wonders for my reputation at the school...

One day last year she came home from school with a message from the nurse: She needed to take a bath every day. Which is interesting because she does bathe regularly. If you've read this blog for anything length of time, you know my Danger Girl lives in trees, collects various dead things, and is always covered in some sort of goo. Somewhere between when I dropped her off CLEAN on the school bus and when she got to her classroom, she acquired some sort of red goo on her face. The teacher thought it was blood and sent her to the nurse. It was barbecue sauce.

Or there was the time I picked her up from school early and she had spilled what looked like her entire lunch down the front of her khaki jumper. Or the day before the last day of school when the nurse called me to say she suspected DG had LICE! I got home. No lice. DG and her friend had been throwing sand at each other at recess.

And let us not forget her Halloween costume last year. Totally HER idea to be a roadkill rabbit. This year, she wants to be a zombie ninja and already has the costume planned out down to where I'm to attach the sword so it sticks out one side like she's "for really really been stabbed."

I know, TOTALLY AWESOME kid...but my gosh...not at the School for Future Stepford Families.

Menu Plan Monday -- Aug 9

I didn't want to take up the space of the cleaning/organizing with, well more organizing in the form of meal planning.

Meal planning has saved me so many times. It really does cut back on the spending. It's also nice to know I always have one emergency meal ready to go in the event of kitchen disaster. We had another one Saturday. The pipe under the sink broke, so I was without kitchen. We ended up making homemade pizzas. Fast and easy.

MENU

Monday: Chili
Tuesday: Chicken Soft Tacos
Wednesday: Sausages and Slaw
Thursday: Beef Curry
Friday: Buttered Toast Crispy Fishwich
Saturday: Potluck (bringing a side dish)
Sunday: Honey and Soy Baked Chicken Thighs

CleanHer10: Back in School!

Wow! Today was the big day for my kids. Four kids in four different schools. It's going to be a challenge, especially if there are more incidents like Orientation Night last week. Each school hosted orientation on the same night, one at 5 p.m. and the rest at 6! I am praying that we can avoid that sort of scheduling fiasco in the future.

My life in general is a scheduling disaster. Between all the kids and my ADD, getting on a schedule, keeping a schedule and not falling apart in the process is very difficult, but also very necessary. This is a big reason I'm doing CleanHer10 and kicking it off with A Back to School theme for the first day. It's back to school, back to routine. Or for some, I guess the first time with a routine.

I often feel like no matter how much I plan ahead, it's going to backfire. Yesterday for church was a perfect example. I am in charge of the library at church. I'm supposed to be there about 20 minutes early so people can get materials and make copies. Those who know my family know exactly how laughable this is. We're late to everything. D jokes that getting our kids to go in the same direction anywhere at the same time is like herding cats.

D hates being late so this always causes problems Sunday morning. He lists things that we could do to make it more efficient. We do them and it doesn't help. To prove my point, Saturday night I had the kids get all of their clothes laid out, including shoes. So we get up, get people showered...and then reshower kids who showered the night before because they are now covered in breakfast (and by covered, I mean food in hair, up the nose, etc). Now, we're running late because of that. We get Danger Girl dressed and she pulled out the WRONG shoes. The ones she found don't fit. We're late for church because of shoes again! Even in my best intentions, we're always late.

And I know that if we actually got everyone bathed, dressed to the shoes, hair brushed, fed, etc., then the little one would blow out her diaper.

It was a bit of a miracle that everyone made it to school on time this morning! Little B's bus comes about 5 minutes after Danger Girl's so at least if we make her bus we know we won't miss his!

I've got to get the kids in to an after school routine. They come home, change, do homework while eating snack. Then I have to immediately start dinner! They don't get home til 4. We enforce the following rules during the school year.

  1. No Cold Lunch without prior warning. The kids can't tell me in the morning they want cold lunch. Cold lunches must be indicated on the calendar a week in advance.
  2. No papers signed in the morning. Paperwork must be given to mom/dad the night before. I will go through the folders for the 1st grader, but everyone else is old enough to give it to me. This includes the dreaded reading logs.
  3. Clothes set out the night before. They wear uniforms. Each child has 5 school outfits. They are washed Saturday and placed on a hanger. All they need to do is grab a hanger, socks and shoes.
  4. One Chance, One Lightbulb. Two of the kids have to get up VERY early. If I have to turn off a light more than once, the lightbulb is gone. The big kids need sleep!
  5. No computer or video games. We outright ban computers for the kids during the week except for homework. TV is also limited. No TV before school! On the weekends, they get 30 minutes each.
  6. Chores, homework, snack. In that order. A couple of the kids claim homework to get out of loading the dishwasher, but seem to find time to call friends! Nope. Not happening.
Meanwhile, I also have to get my own morning routine in to action

  1. Snooze. twice.
  2. crawl out of bed.
  3. remind kids to brush teeth, hair, tie shoes, etc.
  4. rush to bus stop
  5. mama's computer time
  6. start cleaning/laundry
  7. remember to eat
  8. nap (please little miss nap!)
  9. more cleaning
  10. where did the day go? time to pick up from school!
I'm hoping for a bit more structure than that, but right now it's the best I can do!

I'd love to hear your day one organization tips!

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

CleanHer 10


Inspiration comes in the strangest places. I post on twitter frequently. If you don't understand twitter, it's like text messaging on a large scale. People create networks and share information. Many of the people are bloggers or run small businesses. We share links to support each other.

One of the tweeps called Backpacking Dad started his own virtual conference for those who couldn't go to the big blog conference. It started as a bit of a joke and has evolved into some really great fun.

That has inspired me to really create my own blog tour called #CleanHer10. It's kicking off Monday with #TheKidsAreBackInSchool!

The goal for this week long celebration is ideas and tips to get your home back into shape once the kids are back in school. Homeschoolers are not being left out. Homeschool participants are invited to share their tips for keeping life organized with the kids at home, so maybe the rest of us can prevent the absolute chaos and disorganization that happened over the summer.

I am going to post my daily goals each day starting Monday and invite each of you to share your goals. I do not have a custom linky, but if someone who has an account for custom linkys would like to hook us up, that would be all kinds of awesome! For now, please just add a comment to this post with a link to your blog. Grab a badge created for us by QandUs. I'm just an idea person...I'll let someone come up with the plan!